FSM Swimming Association reminded of Olympic mandate for non-discrimination

By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press FSM—
In March of 2018, Mrs. Karo Lelai, the chairperson of the Oceania National Olympic Committee Athletes Commission sent a letter to the FSM Swimming Association saying that it had received numerous reports that the Federation was discriminating in the selection process for elite FSM Swimming Association reminded of Olympic mandate for non-discrimination swimmers to compete internationally.
Since that time, Clark Graham of Chuuk has sent the letter several times to the Kaselehlie Press asking us to reprint it. His most recent demand came earlier this week, but the letter was copied to only four people and Graham’s name was not on that list. Mrs. Lelai expressly denied permission to reprint the contents of her letter.
“In my capacity as chairperson of the ONOC Athletes Commission and as far as I am aware, the matter was resolved,” Lelai wrote in response to our questions. “The issue was to ensure that athletes were given fair and equal opportunity to try out for the swimming team and as far as I know, this was the case.” Since that time, a young woman who has lived her life in New York whose mother is Chuukese went to Papua New Guinea for the Oceania Swimming Championships. Next week, she is going to the Young Olympic Games in Argentina representing the FSM as the FSM’s only swimmer. She is also going to the FINA world short course swimming championships in December.

The FSMNOC is also funding SJ Fiti, a Chuuk runner to go to Australia for a two year track and field scholarship to prepare for the 2020 Toyko Olympic Games. He is the only person from the FSM who is getting the scholarship.
He runs the 100 meter event.
Another Chuukese male athlete in wrestling has been selected to try to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games.
The FSMNOC is applying for Olympic training scholarships for him.
None of the above athletes live in Chuuk but in Guam or the US mainland.
“I say this is very great news indeed for all FSM athletes and I commend the FSM NOC,” Mrs. Lelai wrote.
“For example, Papua New Guinea is an example of a nation that actively seeks overseas athletes to lift the competiveness of its sporting teams.” Chuuk currently has no active swimming program even for open water swimming which was a sport at the recently concluded Micro Games in Yap. Chuuk sent no swimmers to the Micro Games.
In his email to the Kaselehlie Press this week, Mr. Graham said that he has “grown tired of the nepotism and discrimination that has been permitted to exist in the FSM by the FSM Swimming organization and with the knowledge of FSMNOC and its employees.” He says that he is speaking “for all FSM citizens who want fair and equal opportunities for the people, especially the youth, of this nation.” Though the ONOC had received several specific reports that alleged discrimination against athletes, none of the reports had come from the athletes themselves and the ONOC Athlete’s Commission had not been asked to assist in any appeal process on behalf of an athlete.
Mrs. Lelai wrote that the ONOC Athletes Commission had also received no appeals since the issuance of her letter.
“Please note also that Mr. Tobin sits on the ONOC Board with me, however, the ONOC Athletes Commission has a mandate to act in the best interests of and advocate for elite athletes in Oceania with a degree of independence,” she wrote. “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to comment. The ONOC AC is pleased that it has been able to contribute to improving opportunities for elite athletes in FSM.”

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